The Spirit Wrestler Gallery is very pleased to be hosting this small exhibition of remarkable sculptures from the Nunavut community of Iglulik. Iglulik (previously spelled Igloolik) is a small community of approximately 1,300 people situated on an island in the Foxe Basin, close to the Melville Peninsula and across the straits from Baffin Island in northern Canada. The name of the community in Inuktituk means: “there is an igloo here”. The inhabitants of this region, which includes Melville Peninsula, Southampton Island and northern Baffin Island, are called Iglulingmiut.
The history of population of this area dates back approximately four thousand years, with numerous archaeological sites on the island reflecting the area’s earliest inhabitants. The first European contact came with the arrival of the British ships, HMS Fury and HMS Hecla, under the command of Captain William Edward Parry, which wintered there in 1822. Later, American explorer, Charles Francis Hall visited Iglulik in 1867 and 1868 in search for survivors of the lost Franklin Expedition. In 1913, Alfred Tremblay, a French-Canadian prospector with Captain Joseph Bernier’s expedition to Pond Inlet, extended his mineral exploration overland to Iglulik, and in 1921, a member of Knud Rasmussen’s Fifth Thule Expedition visited the island. The first permanent presence by southerners in Iglulik was with the establishment of a Roman Catholic Mission in the 1930s. Later in that decade, the Hudson’s Bay Company established a trading post—and the community became one of the first in the region with an RCMP station, day schools, and clinics.
Recently, Zacharias Kunuk, the Inuit artist and film maker from Iglulik, placed the community on the world stage with two movies filmed in the area which employed local Inuit as actors. In 2001, the award-winning Canadian film “Atanarjuat—The Fast Runner” received world-wide acclaim, and this was followed in 2006 by the “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen”, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
To many collectors, Iglulik is a lesser-known community, both for its geographic remoteness and for the fact that it was simply overshadowed by the market demand for some of the more renowned art-producing communities in the region. Nevertheless, the community is home to a group of very talented carvers who quietly produce wonderful, intimate works which depict legends and traditional life on the land. The artists in Iglulik tend to utilize a variety of indigenous materials in their carvings, which include stone, whalebone, walrus bone, ivory, baleen and especially caribou antler.
We have over the last two years chosen this collection of carvings for our audience to enjoy a rare glimpse into the artistic vision of the artists of Iglulik. We are delighted to share them with you.
April 23 - May 14, 2016
The Spirit Wrestler team: Colin Choi, Derek Norton, Nigel Reading and Gary Wyatt, have been together now for over 30 years representing master-level Inuit, Northwest Coast, and Māori art - and for the last 20 years as the Spirit Wrestler Gallery. We are celebrating this amazing 20-year journey with a “birthday” exhibition, “Reflections 20Years”. The exhibition will feature many of the great artists from the three extraordinary cultures that we represent that have shared and supported us on this journey… and it is also a “thank you” for all of you who have made this journey so much fun! The Spirit Wrestler Gallery was founded in 1996 and quickly became one of the foremost galleries of first-nation art in North America. The name Spirit Wrestler originates from the title of the book by James Houston that tells the story of a young shaman learning his powers in the Canadian north. At the time, the gallery was looking for a name that allowed for the consideration of both traditional and shamanist-based arts here in Canada, as well as embracing the work by other artists from around the world. Early exhibitions included artists from Alaska, the Canadian Plains, and the Māori from New Zealand, being shown in the same room as Northwest Coast and Inuit art. The cross-cultural interactions have offered a unique fusion in the gallery and generated many group and solo exhibitions that we have hosted over the years. We were witnessing the trend of a growing interaction internationally between artists who were travelling far afield to research the art and modern cultural practices of other nations - and along the way, forging friendships that have endured across great distances. The last two decades have also been an exciting transition time for the arts being created by all three cultures. There was a pronounced movement towards the incorporation of new materials, such as glass, bronze, and polymers - which has opened new avenues for the art itself, both in terms of subject and scale. To be a part of seeing the artists exhibiting their work side-by-side has been very exciting and has made the Spirit Wrestler Gallery a unique and challenging experience for any visitor. We have had the privilege of representing many of the greatest Northwest Coast, Inuit, and Māori artists of our time - and have have had the privilege of showing a great number of the most important pieces produced over the last three decades. It has been an honour to share this long journey with so many great artists and clients. Thank you all so much for your belief and support.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery
47 Water Street
Canada V6B 1A1
Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
3 blocks from Waterfront Station
Between Abbott St. and Carrall St.
Monday to Saturday, open 10-6
Sunday and Holidays, open 12-5
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